This concept of prefiling has to do with you getting information that the police are investigating you. Do you sit there and hope for the best? Do you wait to see if the police come to talk to you?
Do you wait until they file a criminal case against you before you hire a criminal defense attorney? Having done this now for nearly 30 years, my opinion is that your best bet is to hire a lawyer right away if you suspect you might be under investigation.
The reason for that is that there are many opportunities for the attorney to protect your rights and make sure that you don't do or say anything that incriminates you.
Our criminal defense lawyers have helped several clients be exonerated before court after being arrested for domestic violence charges under California Penal Code Section 273.5 PC corporal injury to a spouse.
Additionally, DUIs, sex crimes such as Penal Code 261.5 statutory rape, Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor, Penal Code 311 PC child pornography, drug possession, drug trafficking, and even Penal Code 187 PC murder.
The process of getting arrest charges to be dropped keeps that person's record clean as defined under Penal Code Section 849.5, causing an arrest to be deemed a “detention” only. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review this topic further below.
We Specialize in Prefiling Intervention
The Hedding Law Firm specializes in a process called “prefiling intervention,” which consists of negotiation with law enforcement and prosecuting agencies in an attempt to reduce charges or have them dropped entirely before the first court date.
To achieve a successful prefiling intervention, we work with our clients to gather the facts that led to the arrest, related circumstances, and, crucially, the significant mitigating factors that contextualize the alleged conduct. Sometimes, with the assistance of a private investigator, we can locate witnesses, videos, and other exculpatory evidence to build a solid defense case.
Further, there might be some legally significant issues of proof that must be presented to show that a case can't be successfully prosecuted against our client beyond a reasonable doubt. In other cases, the facts are not in question, but there are crucial contextual details that mitigate, making our client's alleged conduct less severe.
Seeking a Case Dismissal
Often, a police report is incomplete. A witness was missed, or crime scene investigators did not recover relevant physical evidence. Our goal is to gather and present all material facts to the government before the first court appearance to help get the arrest dropped, called a “DA reject.”
Someone should not be judged based on a tiny period in their life, instead of their entire background, character, and witness statements. Often, there will be both issues of proof and significant mitigating factors.
After we assemble the necessary information, we will present a formal written position to law enforcement and the prosecuting agencies. In a regular prefiling intervention, we offer several legal positions to the prosecution agency as we develop the facts of the case.
Our defense arguments frequently raise reasonable doubt, showing that the criminal charges will not be proven to a jury, and the case should NOT be formally filed in court.
Further, many arrests are referred to a detective in a specialized unit, such as domestic violence or sex crimes, for further investigation. They have the discretion to present the case to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office as a felony or drop the case for lack of evidence.
Even if the case makes it to the prosecutor, it could be rejected for prosecution, reduced to a lesser offense, or set for an informal office hearing. In prefiling intervention, timing is crucial. The key is to intervene with the decision-makers before a formal filing decision.
Other Benefits of Retaining a Lawyer Early in the Case
If you don't hire an attorney and the police come to talk to you, yes, you could be smart enough not to say anything, but unfortunately, people often get so nervous and scared that when the police come, they start saying things. They don't know how else to respond. They don't realize just to be quiet.
Whereas, if you have an attorney on the payroll when the police come, you say, here's my family attorney. Contact him. He's told me not to make any statements without him present. That's one example of why having a criminal defense attorney on your side is essential in a prefiling situation.
Another example is that sometimes some things can be done affirmatively, either to investigate the case before the filing to prevent a filing. Also, a mitigation package could be sent to the prosecutors before a criminal claim is filed to convince them not to file the case, especially in a borderline situation.
Another important thing is that lawyers can often work out bail-- either get the person released on their own recognizance or some other form of bail. So, they don't just get arrested at their house or their work or in front of their family, friends, neighbors -- whatever the case may be. Sometimes a lawyer can intervene and make that process much more manageable.
Contact The Hedding Law Firm for a Consultation
Finally, having a lawyer right from the beginning helps when the case is filed. The lawyer already knows what's going on. When you go into court, the lawyer will speak confidently because they know the scenario because they were already retained prefiling.
A lot of times, if a lawyer contacts the police or prosecutor, that's a leg up when you go into court in front of the judge, and the judge is trying to set the bail to try to keep the person out of custody, get a reasonable bail or get the person released on their own recognizance. It can also assist in dealing with the prosecutor.
I've had a lot of cases where I get retained. My client is guilty of something, and we're able to work out some resolution even before the case is filed, or when the case is filed, things go much smoother, and we're able to work something out that benefits the client after that. So, there's a whole host of reasons.
Peace of mind is another reason you want to hire an attorney, so you know what's going on. When you're being investigated and get arrested, you lose control, and your attorney can give you some semblance of peace of mind by letting you know what's going on and what to expect.
So, if you or a loved one are under investigation for a crime, or believe you are being investigated, pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense lawyer, and we offer a free case consultation at (213) 542-0979 or fill out our contact form.